Fashion Week’s Svengali Wraps It Up

christina neault Fashion Weeks Svengali Wraps It UpAlthough Christina Neault’s job title is executive producer at IMG, a more accurate description of her job would be the COO of Fashion Week. During those two frantic weeks in September and February she oversees 400 people. It’s a colossal job. She is responsible for the order of the shows; a key responsibility as young designers’ careers can be made by their proximity to the larger, more established shows. Fashion editors are rushing from show to show and the likelihood of having them stop by a newer collection is greatly increased if it is shown after Michael Kors. This makes Ms. Neault the Svengali of fashion week and, according to insiders, being on her good side is the only place to be.

The Observer caught up with her for a moment, right at the end of her hectic week.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at Fashion Week?

 “I get asked that question a lot, the craziest thing is that none of it seems crazy anymore.”

We heard something about a show involving garbage bag of clothes?

 “About 12 to 15 years ago, I was a venue manager and I was doing the show as a favor to a friend of mine.   The designer showed up about 15 minutes before the show was due to start with two giant garbage bags and proceeded to dump the clothes on the floor and have the girls pick out the colors  they would like to wear.  I grabbed a notebook and a sharpie and wrote numbers down for the girls to remember the line-up. I was just shoving the girls down the runway.  Afterwards, the girls were so annoyed by the way the show was conducted that when they returned they just put on their street clothes and walked out the door. I think that the finale had five girls.”

Ever had to kick designers out?

 “I’ve not invited people back for their collections but not for their behavior. “

Were there fits backstage, or times when the models didn’t show up? 

 “Oh, I’ve witnessed many fits backstage and been to many shows where the models didn’t show up. There were times when I would have to redo the whole line-up, or go to the show next door and see if there is someone you can pull off the runway. I’ve produced shows in ten minutes.”

Have you seen the models do any drugs?

 “Hmmm…they don’t do that out in the open. I don’t find it to be an issue, the girls are pretty young. There are managers out there, mothers back there, these girls get a bad rap on that, they are working hard.”

Do they eat?

“Of course they eat. They are the first ones to ask me where the Kraft table is.”

Best thing about being at Lincoln Center?

 “Having the space for it to be new and fresh and open.  We were landlocked at Bryant Park for 18 years, it was the most efficient it could be but it took us 18 years to get there. We were able to bring that knowledge to Lincoln Center now and I’m sure that’s going to kind of evolve the longer we’re here.  We did have the ability to build it out. It makes our lives much easier. We no longer have 2,000 people in the lobby.”

 So, how can a young designer change their time slot?

 “Well, you are grandfathered into the spot you’ve had for years.  So Carolina, Michael, Calvin, they’ve had those spots for 25 years.  If a spot is vacated then we give it to the next person in line. It’s done by seniority. We try not to have designers who don’t have showrooms. They really need to have a foundation and need to be sold somewhere.  If the people that watch the runways can’t go out and buy the clothes somewhere then they are not going to write about it.”